First of all I want to make something perfectly clear. I have no hope that anything recommended here has any more of a chance of occurring than this writer has of either playing for or owning a major league team. But the recent talk about how unfair the current agreement is with the MLB Players Association and the inevitability of a work stoppage when the five-year agreement runs its course has been the motivation for this post.
Major league baseball is a $10+ billion business.
Is there sympathy for the owners? Not much. Sure some owners are stuck in crappier baseball cities like Tampa that don’t care much about their teams and show paper losses. But their real books are never opened and when their teams are put up for sale they double, triple, quadruple their investment.
Is there sympathy for the players? Not much. Yes, they are the product. And, yes they apparently had a year when for no real financial reason they took home less of a piece of the pie. The fact that no team is willing to give the players what the Scott Borases of the world think they have earned is a reason for a future strike. The “minimum” MLB salary is $545,000 in a world where many folks wished they had the $45,000. In 2018, the average MLB player made approximately $4.5 million. It’s tough to get worked up about a guy being disrespected by being offered $300 million instead of $400 million or that Dallas Keuchel thinks he should get six years of insane money instead of four years.
Should the players get a bigger piece of a pie that is based on their talent? Probably. Do the fans really care? Not much.
When it comes to a battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players, us thousandaires don’t want to see how the sausage is made, we just want the sausage to keep being made.
Here are some thoughts about two forgotten parties in this money grab.
Instead of giving a bigger piece of the pie to the top players – how about a small piece of the pie for the struggling minor league players. Ignore the very small percentage of players who get a big bonus. The top AAA players get paid a little more than $2000 a month and only for the 5 months of the season. Not even spring training. Most of them survive on the backs of spouses who have to keep the family’s finances afloat.
Let’s say the average major league team has eight minor league teams with approximately 25 players per team. If you paid an average of $50,000 to the players that would be about $10 million a year (actually about $8 million a year since you already have to pay them something). Man that does not seem much to share with those who work hard and ride buses around the country.
Many fans are priced out of going to games anymore. Between tickets, parking, food, drinks, and souvenirs – many people never make it to any games during the season. This is especially true for the elderly on fixed income.
Let’s do the same thing. Have each team set aside $10 million for the fans? If you made it $40 tickets that would be 250,000 free tickets a season. Have folks sign up for it, have some kind of financial criteria, but do it. It would be showing respect to those who have loved the team for many, many years.
So, there it is. Just asking that these two forgotten sets of folks be remembered going forward as the owners and players fight over more money than they all ever dreamed of when they were kids playing little league or the CEO equivalent of little league (Risk?).
What do you think?